SilvaCarbon Newsletter: April 2021  
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Radar for Detecting Deforestation (RADD) Alerts

The new Radar for Detecting Deforestation (RADD) alert system, supported by SilvaCarbon and developed in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Wageningen University (WUR), will provide a reliable, near real-time stream of data on deforestation across the tropics, including areas that are covered by clouds and thus difficult to monitor with optical satellite data. The alerts detected by the RADD system will be shared through the Global Forest Watch (GFW) platform in the form of email and mobile alerts to inform those working on the ground. Already the alerts have been used by palm oil companies and local authorities in Indonesia and Malaysia to address unsustainable deforestation, and the number of users is expected to grow significantly following the public release of the data in early 2021. The alerts are currently available for insular Southeast Asia and tropical Africa and will soon be scaled to cover all tropical forests, providing crucial information to those working to stop deforestation. SilvaCarbon/USFS Contact: Sasha Gottlieb,
Links for more information:




Republic of the Congo – Forest Cover Change Assessment

Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo / February 8-12, 2021

The Republic of the Congo (RoC) is implementing a national project to assess changes in land use and estimate GHG emissions and removals for the period of 1990-2020 with assistance from technical partners including SilvaCarbon, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN). The outputs from this project will inform the country’s first Biennial Update Report (BUR) and Third National Communication (TNC) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The project is designed in three phases: 1) build capacity on the application of the Collect Earth Online (CEO) tool; 2) develop a protocol with guidance and guidelines for the interpretation of satellite imagery; and 3) collect data with the CEO tool to interpret land use changes for the national territory. In September 2020, SilvaCarbon, FAO and CfRN held a technical workshop to build capacity on the use of CEO, which led to the development and expert review of a draft data collection protocol. This was followed by a second workshop in February 2021 to consolidate and validate all the chapters in the protocol and prepare the interpreters for data collection. Data collection by trained interpretation teams is ongoing. Contact: René Siwe,

Republic of Congo – Sampling-based Estimation of Area and Map Accuracy (E-learning)

Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo / January 21, 2021

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends that GHG estimates from all sectors should be accompanied by a quantification of associated uncertainties and have no bias. In the forestry and other land use sub-sector, sampling-based approaches for the estimation of area and map accuracy have been proven to comply with these recommendations. SilvaCarbon, through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in partnership with Boston University, has developed an E-learning course to introduce the concept, rationale, and steps of sampling-based estimation. In January, the online course was delivered to national experts in RoC who are involved in the ongoing national land use change assessment. The course was delivered through a workshop format to enable participants to have easy access to course materials and exchange directly with the course instructor, Professor Pontus Olofsson of Boston University. Contact: René Siwe,

Cameroon – National Forest Monitoring System  Assessment and Roadmap

Douala, Cameroon / January 17-23, 2021

SilvaCarbon held a technical workshop in Cameroon to assess progress made in the establishment of the National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS) and identify the remaining actions needed to ensure the operationalization of the system. The assessment is based on the NFMS building blocks and corresponding actions elaborated in the REDDcompass platform. The workshop was structured to provide an opportunity for exchange between Cameroon and RoC, which carried out a similar exercise in 2019. Drawing on guidance and experience from their Congolese counterparts, the Cameroonian participants analyzed 86 actions related to: 1) institutional arrangements; 2) decision and policies; 3) measurement and estimation; and 4) notification and verification. Based on the outcome of each action, the participants identified and prioritized current needs, gaps, and remaining activities for NFMS operationalization. Contact: Olivier Sene,

Republic of the Congo – Database Management System

Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo / December 21-23, 2020

With SilvaCarbon support, an information technology firm was mobilized to establish a database management system for RoC’s national REDD+ Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) Unit within the National Center for the Inventory and Management of Forest and Wildlife Resources (CNIAF). After the successful installation and configuration of the system, the next step was to train staff on system utilization. Two days were set aside to train system administrators and one day for the users. The objective of this training workshop was to equip administrators and users with the skills necessary for setting up the server and conducting day-to-day operations. Contact: René Siwe,

Zambia – REDD+ Registry

Zambia / 2020-2021

Zambia is in the final stages of completing its REDD+ Registry, with support from SilvaCarbon through the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) REDD+ Technical Advisor in Zambia. The Registry will enable the Zambian Forestry Department to keep track of emission reductions of individual REDD+ projects in the country and to monitor the payments communities receive for their contribution to sustainable forest management. SilvaCarbon assistance for Zambia supports the objectives of the BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL). Contact: Sebastian Wesselman,

Cameroon – Forest Cover and Change Atlas

Yaounde, Cameroon / December 2020-April 2021

Forest loss maps for Cameroon were recently completed for the period of 2000-2018 through collaboration between SilvaCarbon, the University of Maryland (UMD) Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) team, the Cameroon National Observatory of Climate Change, and local consultants. The outcome of the exercise has been used to develop an atlas illustrating forest cover changes in different administrative regions and departments. The atlas underscores the importance of developing, harnessing, and sharing technologies and information to foster deeper understanding of forest cover change dynamics in Cameroon. The document will officially be endorsed by the Government of Cameroon before dissemination to the public. Special sessions will be held with Ministry of Flora and Fauna (MINFOF) staff at the departmental and regional levels to brief them on the utilization of the atlas. Contact: Olivier Sene,




Cambodia – Crop Mapping 

Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Virtual / January-February 2021

SilvaCarbon is supporting the development of detailed maps for several priority crops in Cambodia, together with the Department of Land Resources Management (DALRM, under the General Directorate for Agriculture), Cambodia Ministry of Environment (MOE), FAO, and SERVIR-Mekong. Currently the focus is on generating results for three sub-categories: orchards (mango, orange, longan, banana, durian, and rambutan); annual crops (cassava, maize); and perennial crops (cashew, paper, sugar cane). The activity has a strong Training-of-Trainers approach with Ministry of Environment team providing technical backstopping to DALRM colleagues. Royal University of Agriculture is also involved in the process. Until now, the trainings and discussions focused on integrating the new high-resolution Planet data and agreeing on the field data collection for the model. Next steps will include: 1) field data collection to calibrate and improve the model, 2) cross-agency discussion on results, and 3) documenting the process and the mapping steps. Contact: Marija Kono, 


Regional – Forest Landscape Restoration Monitoring Tool in SEPAL

Virtual / Ongoing 

SilvaCarbon is collaborating with FAO, Peking University, Duke University, and SERVIR-Mekong to develop a forest landscape restoration (FLR) monitoring tool in FAO’s System for Earth Observations, Data Access, Processing and Analysis for Land Monitoring (SEPAL). Following the initial consultations with different stakeholders in the second half of 2020, the team focused on building the tool wire frame and restoration planning module and on creating a short video to introduce the tool. Contact: Marija Kono,

Lao PDR and Nepal – Improving Estimates of Forest Degradation

Virtual / Ongoing

SilvaCarbon is supporting Lao PDR efforts to improve the country’s emissions estimates from selective logging and shifting cultivation. This work is being done under the umbrella of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and in close collaboration with the Lao PDR Forest Inventory and Planning Division (FIPD) and National University of Laos (NUOL), the Japanese development agency (JICA), and European Commission Joint Research Centre (EC- JRC). In January and February, the team focused on generating forest degradation maps by combining the Lao PDR Forest Reference Emission Level map, EC-JRC map, and the Continuous Degradation Detection (CODED) tool, and on setting up stratified random samples in CEO. The Lao PDR team, comprised of FIPD and NOUL staff, is currently conducting sample-based assessment using CEO. 

Similarly, in Nepal, SilvaCarbon is working with technical staff from the Forest Research and Training Centre (FRTC) to test the application of CODED for detecting and monitoring forest degradation in the Terai Arc Landscape. The results for both Lao PDR and Nepal are expected by early May. Contact: Marija Kono, 


Vietnam – Training of Trainers for Harmonizing Land Cover Mapping

Hanoi, Vietnam and Virtual / March 22-26, 2021 

In 2020, SilvaCarbon, in collaboration with SERVIR-Mekong, initiated a comprehensive training-of -trainers (TOT) initiative for land cover change mapping in Vietnam. The TOT brings together technical expertise from the University of Maryland to build on the existing technical capacity at the Forest Inventory and Planning Institute (FIPI) in support of Vietnam’s National Remote Sensing Department (NRSD). In January and February the team developed the field pilot plan and started working on the Standard Operating Protocols. From March 22-26, under the guidance of Peter Potapov from University of Maryland, the team embarked on a week-long workshop to test the application of the GLAD system for analysis of the land cover change for Central Highland region in the period of 2008-2018. The field work for validation of the results is scheduled for April, 14-16, 2021. Contact: Vo Viet Cuong:


Vietnam – Completing the GHG-Inventory for the AFOLU sector

Virtual / December 2020-January 2021 

In January 2021, the Vietnam Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) finalized its Third Biennial Update Report (BUR3), following the IPCC 2006 Guidelines and applying Tier 2 approach for the forestry sector data. The GHG-Inventory for the BUR3 used 2016 GHG-Inventory data which was compiled using the ALU tool for the Agriculture, Forestry, and Land Use (AFOLU) sector. Dr. Steven Ogle from Colorado State University, which developed the ALU tool, provided remote support to the Department of Climate Change to update the 2016 GHG-Inventory data and to conduct quality assurance and quality control. Vietnam is expected to submit the BUR3 by the end of March. Contact: Vo Viet Cuong, 



Latin America and the Caribbean

Panama – Visual Interpretation Project

Virtual / January-March 2021

SilvaCarbon technical specialists worked with Panamanian forestry officials to help analyze and redesign a high-resolution imagery visual interpretation project, or “Mapatón,” using CEO. The goal of the project was to use data from thousands of visually-interpreted plots overlaid on high resolution imagery to estimate activity data classes. The project is part of an effort to update to the country’s national Forest Reference Level (FRL) and reports under the UNFCCC. SilvaCarbon specialists provided expertise on data analysis, plot network redesign for the next remeasurement cycle, and combining emission factors and the Mapatón -generated activity data. Input from SilvaCarbon helped Panamanian partners improve uncertainty estimation, produce estimates of activity data, and redesign the second iteration of the Mapatón. Technical support in Panama is ongoing as Panama works to redesign its NFI. Contact: Rebecca Ciciretti,

Costa Rica – Monitoring by Points Pilot Project

Virtual / January-February 2021

Two workshops were conducted related to a pilot study for SIMOCUTE, Costa Rica’s state-of-the-art system for monitoring forests and other lands. One of SIMOCUTE’s technical working groups is implementing a pilot study to evaluate the use of new image sources for the monitoring system. The pilot study is also designed to train participants on how to implement the monitoring system from start to finish, including project initiation, project design, project implementation, quality assurance and quality control, and data analysis. The first workshop was held to discuss and clarify questions related to the visual interpretation and the use of CEO. In the second workshop, participants installed the R and RStudio Desktop software and carried out the step-by-step process of analyzing the data collected by visual interpretation of coverage and land use. Participants also installed the FIESTA package in R and performed the data analysis with this package. Additional follow-on workshops are being planned to address gaps and lessons identified through this experience. Contact: Rebecca Ciciretti,

Peru – Sample-Based Area Estimation

Virtual / January 2021

During a series of meetings between SilvaCarbon technical experts, Peru’s Ministry of Environment (MINAM), Mexico’s National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR), and the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), representatives from Peru shared their progress in calculating deforestation from sample-based area estimation in order to create a new FRL. The participants reviewed what appeared to be anomalous reductions and spikes in deforestation and discussed the possible explanations. Additional topics discussed included anomalous values in certain dry years and generating emission factors from a combination of NFI and ForestPlot data, among other topics. SilvaCarbon specialists Craig Wayson, Chip Scott, Andy Lister, and Randy Hamilton participated in the meetings, along with Oswaldo Carrillo from CONAFOR. Contact: Craig Wayson,





Quantifying Uncertainty Estimates and Risk for Carbon Accounting (QUERCA)

Remote / January-March 2021 (ongoing)

Quantifying uncertainty is important for understanding the accuracy of any measurement estimate, and it is crucial for building trust among partners for successful REDD+ implementation. The Quantifying Uncertainty Estimates and Risk for Carbon Accounting (QUERCA) initiative, supported by SilvaCarbon, is aimed at developing tools for standardizing measurement uncertainties in forest carbon accounting. The initiative has developed a survey (currently awaiting human research review) which will help to identify the barriers and opportunities in uncertainty estimation for REDD+ reporting in different countries. Draft guidance has been written and includes extensive examples. In conjunction with the World Bank, the QUERCA group has already provided support to Vietnam for their Monitoring Report to be submitted to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). The group will soon provide assistance to Costa Rica and Chile for their reports. Contact: Craig Wayson,


Collect Earth Online Updates and Blog

Remote / March 2021

Collect Earth Online (CEO) is being updated with a number of new features and enhancements. Information about the update is provided in a new blog on the CEO website. CEO development is supported by SilvaCarbon in collaboration with other partners. Contact: Sasha Gottlieb,




Cameroon – National Forest Inventory Preparation Phase

Yaounde, Cameroon / January 1-June 30, 2021

SilvaCarbon is assisting Cameroon’s National Observatory of Climate change (ONACC) and Department of National Forest Inventory (SDIAF) team to complete the NFI preparation phase. This effort includes updating NFI field guidelines and training ONACC and SDIAF staff to apply the guidelines. After the completion of the document, a SilvaCarbon expert will work with partners to discuss institutional arrangements in advance of a series of field trainings to be conducted. Contact: Olivier Sene,

Republic of the Congo – Data Collection for Forest Cover Change Assessment

Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo / March-April 2021

National experts in RoC are visually interpreting satellite images using the CEO tool and collect data related to land use/cover changes for the period 1990-2020. The outputs from this work will inform the country’s UNFCCC reporting. Contact: René Siwe,

Republic of the Congo – Technical Support for Sangha and Likouala Emissions Reductions Program

Ouesso, Republic of the Congo / May-June 2021

SilvaCarbon is organizing training workshops to understand the needs and requirements of departmental administrations of the Ministry of Forest Economy in Sangha and Likouala and to strengthen the capacity of departmental personnel to enable them to better monitor and measure emissions and removals under the Emission Reduction Program in Sangha and Likouala. Contact: René Siwe,

Cameroon – GHG Accounting Training

Virtual / April 15-June 30, 2021

SilvaCarbon will provide online training on GHG accounting to Cameroonian national experts involved in the preparation of National Communications to the UNFCCC. The online training modules, developed by the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute, will cover the following topics: Introduction and Cross-cutting Issues (IPCC 501); Agriculture (IPCC 511); and Forestry and Other Land Use (IPCC 541). The training will provide the experts with additional skills to efficiently support GHG data compilation and reporting in Cameroon. Contact: Olivier Sene,

Cameroon – Updating Land Cover Change and Loss Estimates using Collect Earth Online

Yaounde, Cameroon / April 15-August 30, 2021

After completing land cover change maps for the 2000-2018 period, Cameroon, with SilvaCarbon support, is preparing to launch a training series on the use of CEO. The training will help partners in Cameroon to determine IPCC-compliant activity data by extending forest/non forest estimates to more land use change classes. Contact: Olivier Sene,

Zambia – Land Cover Mapping

Zambia / April-July 2021

Zambian experts will participate in a series of online workshops with SilvaCarbon experts and partners from Boston University to develop a land cover map for Zambia. The Zambian team will learn to apply the Continuous Change Detection and Classification (CCDC) algorithm to produce this map, while fine-tuning the result with the necessary ground-truthing. Contact: Sebastian Wesselman,


Vietnam – Field Data Collection and Map Validation Training

Vietnam Central Highlands / April 14-16, 2021

As part of the ongoing SilvaCarbon-supported TOT process in Vietnam, strong emphasis is placed on building the capacity of NRSD staff for visual classification and validation of machine learning products. In order to improve the visual classification skills and discuss standardized practices for data collection and map validation, SilvaCarbon will facilitate a three-day field training focused on validating land cover change maps for the Central Highland region. The training will be led by FIPI technical experts with backstopping support from SERVIR-Mekong and University of Maryland. Contact: Vo Viet Cuong,

Cambodia – Field Data Collection for Crop Mapping

Ratanak Mondul Province, Cambodia / April 2021

In order to calibrate the model for the ongoing crops mapping effort in Cambodia, the Cambodia team will conduct field work to collect data points in the Ratanak Mondul Province with a focus on broadleaf crops. The field data collection will be synchronized with the broader field validation campaign organized by MOE as part of the Cambodia 2020 land cover mapping initiative. This will provide opportunity for the MOE and DALRM teams to work together in the field and agree on standardized operating procedures as an important element for future data harmonization across all land use classes. Contact: Marija Kono,

Regional – Workshops on SEPAL FLR Tool

Virtual, Mekong Region / April-May 2021

With the beta version of the SEPAL FLR now tool completed, the next steps will include discussion with countries on testing and customizing the tool. The SilvaCarbon Asia program will work with FAO and SERVIR-Mekong to pilot the tool in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam. This will be done through a series of meetings with combined in-person and virtual workshops and follow-up discussions with different agencies involved in forest restoration planning and monitoring. One of the objectives of these meetings is to identify landscapes in each country where the tool can be tested in the second half of 2021. Contact: Marija Kono,



The USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia (RDMA) supported an assessment of commodity crop development and forest loss in Southeast Asia as part of an effort to improve information on land use change and associated carbon stocks in the region. The assessment was led by USFS, the Spatial Informatics Group (SIG), and World Agroforestry (ICRAF). The assessment report outlines the innovative use of new remote sensing approaches, highlights the need to consider a wide array of commodities as drivers of deforestation, and synthesizes a set of recommendations for future land planning for policy makers.
This article documents the approach undertaken by the Bangladesh Forest Department under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to establish the Bangladesh Forest Inventory (BFI) as a multipurpose, efficient, accurate and replicable national forest assessment. The article outlines the design, operationalization and some key results of the process. SilvaCarbon provided support throughout the BFI establishment and implementation.
This one-page fact sheet outlines Costa Rica’s national monitoring system (SIMOCUTE) and describes U.S. support for the system provided through the Climate Fellows program and SilvaCarbon program.

About SilvaCarbon 

SilvaCarbon is a multi-agency technical cooperation program of the U.S. Government to strengthen the capacity of selected tropical countries in measuring, monitoring, and reporting forest and terrestrial carbon. Agencies that have contributed to SilvaCarbon include the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), US Department of State (DOS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Smithsonian Institution. Program funding is provided by USAID and DOS and program implementation is currently led by USFS and USGS.

SilvaCarbon is also a U.S. Government contribution to the Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI). SilvaCarbon co-leads the GFOI capacity-building component together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 

For more information visit the SilvaCarbon website at
USAID, US Dept. of State, USFS, USGS, EPA, NASA, NOAA, Smithsonian
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